Also available on Xbox One, OSX, Linux, and Windows
I have been looking forward to XCOM 2 for several years, ever since I first played Enemy Unknown back in late 2013. I held off on it when it first came out, hoping to find a good sale on it within a year, but then I read about the ports to PS4 and Xbox One. Being a hardcore collector, I naturally opted for the physical console releases. When opting for a console port of a PC game, one naturally expects diminished quality and often fewer features. What one should not expect to sacrifice is basic functionality.
Before I tear into this painfully sloppy console port, let me explain the game itself for those who may not be familiar with the series and highlight its positives that will be common across all platforms. XCOM is a long running series of turn based strategy games revolving around the idea of an alien invasion. It began with UFO: Enemy Unknown for PC (and, later, Amiga, Amiga CD32, and PlayStation) back in early 1994 and was revived with a reboot in late 2012 called XCOM: Enemy Unknown for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. While I have about half of the games in the series, I'm ashamed to say that I've only played the reboot and XCOM 2 (I'll remedy that eventually, I swear). They are, however, outstanding, and part of what makes XCOM 2 so good is that they didn't change the formula. Like, at all. It plays almost EXACTLY like XCOM: Enemy Unknown but with prettier visuals (as one would expect moving up a console generation).
One of my FAVORITE parts of the game is the options for soldier customization. I had my usual offensively named soldiers (whose names I won't mention) along with soldiers named after me, a few of my friends, my three favorite students, and - of course - some of my favorite characters in My Little Pony. In addition to naming them, the game allows for a decent variety of props and hairstyles as well as hair and armor colors. The visual customization options aren't AMAZING, but they're definitely "good." The game is also extremely approachable in terms of difficulty. There are (IIRC) five difficulty settings ranging, making it appealing to long-time series veterans and new players alike.
Now for the less-than-glowing part of this review. I will start this part by saying that you should ABSOLUTELY buy this game. I will add that you should ABSOLUTELY NOT buy this game on PlayStation 4. I haven't played the Xbox One version, but I can't imagine that it performs much better. This game needs to be played on PC. The game looks great on PlayStation, but the performance leaves a LOT to be desired. The most immediately glaring issue is the loading time. This game has a loading screen to load the loading screen for the mission's loading screen. I'm not kidding. There's a black loading screen that will usually take about two minutes. Then you have a loading screen disguised as a "briefing" that you can't skip. That lasts for a minute or so. Then there's another black loading screen that will take you another two minutes. And after all that loading, the game still stutters when the mission first loads.
It gets worse, though. As I got farther in the game (I'd reckon past the 3/4 mark), the loading times got worse. It got to the point at the very end where it would take literally five minutes to get past a SINGLE loading screen (and remember, there are usually three in a row). I got curious and tried a little experiment. A game of NBA Jam on my Sega CD loaded faster than my mission in XCOM 2. In the time it took to load the final cutscene of the game, I loaded and finished a fight in Samurai Shodown 2 on my Neo Geo CD and got a second fight loaded and started. On a console with a 1x CD drive. It's insanity.
So it takes longer to load than it does for an old country couple to drive to town on Sunday morning. If only that's where the problems ended. As I mentioned briefly already, the cut scenes and initial parts of the mission stutter significantly (single digit FPS at times). Three or four times, I had game crash on me entirely. Sometimes the game would just give up after seven or eight minutes trying to load whatever came after a cutscene and just replay the cutscene and try again. Fortunately the gameplay itself had few performance issues (there still were some, but they were much less frequent and much less severe), but the fact that it's the non-interactive part that makes your console have a stroke is a bit absurd. I seriously question the legitimacy of 2K's quality assurance department (assuming one exists) at least insomuch as their console ports are concerned.
You definitely shouldn't forego XCOM 2, but let my mixed bag of an experience be a lesson to you all; play it on PC. If you want it on your shelf like me, wait for it go on sale or something because it's just not worth playing on PlayStation. Like I said, I haven't played it on Xbox One, so I can't say whether or not the performance issues are similar, better, or worse on that platform, but I would be surprised to learn that Xbox avoided the PlayStation host of issues.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.